We are settled into the lush tangled hills of Alabama for a couple months. The scenery is lovely, but it's been raining a ton. I try to grasp summer in the palm of my sunkissed hands but it always slips through like soft white sand. The days of rain and drizzle making it murky.
The park we are at has a nice pool, surrounded by a vine covered fence. A pool in the summer is on our must have list. The wifi at the park kinda sucks... but the pool is crystal clear and we rarely have to share it with anyone else. It's a trade off I'm willing to pay.
We've learned that when the sun begins to peek out, we have to make a mad dash to the pool, because it may end up raining the rest of the week day. This morning we did the least amount of chores possible and every one poured into the living area in their suits and bronzed skin. Ready to go. They were just waiting on me.
I went into the middle room and opened the door to my little shelf of clothing. Instead of putting on my usual floral tankini, I grabbed my licorice red bikini top, you know the one. It's the one I bought when I was headed to a girls weekend and feeling fierce. The one that I usually wear with a tank top or a slouchy t-shirt. I had thought of wearing it only in my fragmented dreams. Dreams of my youth and wearing it uncovered in my unmarked skin.
I tied it on in one fell swoop, before the doubts could slither in.
I threw my usual Dylan slouchy tee on over the top and walked to the pool with my people. I made sure everyone had their sunscreen on and threw my pool float in. And just before I climbed down the ladder, I pulled off my grey tee shirt and tossed it onto the chaise. As the water slid across my belly, I felt such a sense of freedom.
I talk to my girls a lot about positive body image. About all the editing that happens in magazines and ads. We talk about loving ourselves despite stretch marks or cellulite, despite birth marks or skinny legs. Thin or not, just loving our bodies and being so grateful for all the mighty things that we can do. We talk about it and I try hard to model it for them.
Today as I lie on my stretch-marked-hasn't-seen-the-sun-in-years-belly, floating all over the shimmering water, I had a moment. My eyes locked for just a second on my 15 year old son. And I realized that he needed to see me in my bikini. Just as much as my girls.
He needed to see me loving my body just the way it is. He needed to see my stretch marks and my cellulite. They are a part of who I am. My sweet teenage son who is surrounded by those same images (and more) that my girl's see. He needed to see that this is what I look like and that I love myself for it. I don't want him shocked by the site of an un-photoshopped woman. I don't want him disappointed if her skin sags or if her thighs have silver lines across them. I want him to know that this is what lots of women look like. And that we love ourselves for it.
My daughter said to me today "Mom, I'm so glad you decided to wear that suit. You look fantastic." Her words full of kindness and love. I'm glad that I was brave today. For myself. My daughters. And my son.